I Found You by Lisa Jewell

lisaWhat I thought:

Alice lives in a cottage in a Yorkshire seaside town overlooking the beach with her three children. One rainy day she observes a man sitting on the beach all day, alone, without a coat and when she goes to speak to him she discovers he has no memory of who he is or where he has come from. Alice invites Frank (as her youngest daughter names him) to stay with her as a lodger for a while until he remembers something about himself.

Meanwhile, in London, Lily is newly married and has only been in the UK for 10 days (from the Ukraine) and still very much in the honeymoon stage so when her husband doesn’t return from work she sets about tracking him down.

The story alternates between Alice and Lily and also back to the same seaside town in 1993 where teenagers Kirsty and Gray are holidaying with their parents. On the beach they meet the handsome, enigmatic and intense Mark who befriends Kirsty before their holiday ends in a tragedy that nobody saw coming. We, the readers, are left to piece together all three strands of the book and work out how they are all linked.

The pacing was good and the momentum more than sufficient to carry me through with building curiosity and intrigue. I found the characters all believable and actually likeable in most cases, particularly the two female leads – Alice, with her chaotic life, is unapologetically human and flawed but someone I felt like I would want to know and Lily who has a fragility that made me worry for her  but also a determination that made me cheer her on.

Verdict:

I did really enjoy this book. It was an easy and compelling read that flows well and works enough intrigue into the plot to keep a high level of interest.

Have you read this or anything else by Lisa Jewell? What are your thoughts?

 

The Book Whisperers Top Reads of 2016

2016 has been kind of an odd year for me and, I can’t lie, one I’ll be glad to see the back of. But the good news is that it’s over now and onwards and upwards. I’m devouring books again and resurrecting this blog (that has been semi-neglected for too long).

I’ve definitely got my reading mojo back, particularly in the second half of this year, and have read some really amazing books. The ones I have picked as my favourite are for a mixutre of reasons: they were real page-turners, they resonated with me in ways I didn’t expect, they were real comfort reads and just what I needed at the time.

In no particular order, the books I have picked out for my favourite reads of 2016 are:

 

five-riversFive Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

This has to be my wow book of the year. I thought the premise sounded interesting but was totally unprepared for how it would make me feel. I found this book is enchanting, mesmerising and beautiful and was absolutely blown away by it. In fact, I still think about it now. An author that really understands what it is to be human. Highly recommended. Read my full review here.

 

 

book-5Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This was a book club choice that I probably wouldn’t have picked up for myself otherwise (which is exactly what I love about book clubs – they force you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to new authors and genres). Station Eleven is a dystopian novel that is set (for the most part) 20 years after the end of the world as we know it (due to a flu virus that wipes out 98% of the world’s population). What I really loved about this book is the way that it was written without sentimentality, almost matter of fact. I found it really refreshing. The story made me think and ask myself lots of questions about what I would do and I found it really engrossing read.

 

book-9Angela Marsons – all of them!

My new favourite author crush featuring my new favourite Detective crush. Crime fiction is probably my favourite genre and in a sea of crime and psychological thrillers (some of which are fantastic and some of which are mediocre at best), to find a brand new author and fall in love with the entire series is really exciting! I actually read The Lost Girls (book 3) first and promptly went right to be the beginning (Silent Scream) and read all 5 in two weeks. D.I. Kim Stone is a delight to read about (her feistiness and dry wit had me laughing out loud) and in the whole series (currently 5 books , there is not a dud among them). Angela Marsons has been signed up for a total of 16 books in this series and I, for one, cannot wait to read them all. I will be taking part in the Blog Tour for Book 2, Evil Games, in Feb so keep an eye out for that. You can read my review of Blood Lines here and if you haven’t yet discovered this series, what are you waiting for?

 

book-6Our Song by Dani Atkins

I read this book on a 9 day, 120 mile hike on the Cleveland Way in March. I did the walk on my own, just me and a large rucksack, staying in B&B’s and barns overnight and walking all day. When I was feeling battered, broken and weary once arriving at my nightly destination I read Our Song while laid in bed before dropping off into a deep slumber. This was the perfect book for me right then – gentle and heart-warming and just what I needed. I have read several other of Dani Atkin’s books and have loved them all.For a real feel-good, magical read, these books are just the ticket.

 

book-3When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

This was a holiday read for me and a perfect page-turning one. As psychological thrillers go, this is one of my favourites. Five work colleagues, a murder (but you don’t know who or who committed it) and several different view-points that keep you guessing right until the end. And what I love most is that I didn’t guess! It could just be that I have read so many psychological thrillers that I can usually guess the outcome, when I come across one that still catches me out I love it! Clever and gripping.

 

 

book-4Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

A life lived over and over again, but with different outcomes. What a clever plot device. Ursula is born, then she dies, she is born again and dies slightly later, she is born again and so on… Ursula witnesses some of the most important events of the last century, living through (usually, anyway) two world wars, friendships, deaths, and hardship. This book is imaginative, bittersweet, poignant and very ambitious but it works.

 

 

kliing-2The Killing Game by J.S. Carol

What a page-turner. I read this on holiday and couldn’t put it down. A gunman in a Hollywood restaurant that is frequented by the A-List and the rich and famous who are all taken hostage, and who lives and who dies is often a game of chance. Adrenalin-fuelled, twisty-turny and intense. Brilliant.

Read my full review here.

 

 

 

book-8Summer at the Lake by Erica James

I absolutely loved this book. It was everything I needed: friendship, nostalgia, and pure indulgence. Three people are thrown together in a split second and what follows is a tale of new friendships in both Oxford and Lake Como in Italy (which  is a place I have been to and it brought back wonderful memories). Warm, engaging, and like meeting up with old friends every time I picked it up, so much so I didn’t want it to end.

 

 

So there it is – my list of favourite books this year. There are lots more that I thoroughly enjoyed but these get my vote for being in the right place at the right time and wowing me, soothing me and inspiring me.

Have you read any of these books and if so, what did you think? What are your favourite books of 2016?

Finally, wishing you all a wonderful, happy, healthy 2017 filled with books and more books!

 

 

Thanks for bearing with me

Thanks for “bearing” with me while I’ve been AWOL

 

I’ve been a naughty girl. Not only have I been missing in action but I didn’t even post to let you know. My reasonsexcuses are that I’ve been on holiday (to The Gambia – amazing place!) and have been unwell recently and am still having to have some time off work (nothing serious, but enough that I have been a mixture of lazy and no energy to post).

I have so much to catch up on including photos of The Gambia and also 12 book reviews which I promise to get round to very soon.

Upcoming reviews will be:

 

Dead Scared by S J Bolton

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

You Before Me by Jojo Moyes

A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E M Forster

Blind Fury by Lynda La Plante

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

Split Second by Cath Staincliffe

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Tideline by Penny Hancock

Pure by Andrew Miller

 

Thanks for still hanging around – I really appreciate that there have been so many hits on my blog since I did a runner despite there being no new posts for a month.

 

It’s good to be back! 🙂

 

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In three words:

Dystopian, violent, bravery

 

 

What I thought:

Up until about a week ago I hadn’t even heard of this book. Then I saw that it had won both Best YA book and Best Book of 2011 on Goodreads as voted by the members. I was curious about this book that hadn’t reached my radar yet and upon reading the reviews discovered that it was being hailed as the new Hunger Games (which is one of my all-time favourite books). A day or so later I happened to be in a bookshop (what are the chances? Okay, I jest, I am almost a permanent fixture in bookshops) and saw a copy of Divergent staring out at me from the shelves and I just had to have it.

Before I comment on my thoughts I will briefly outline the plot for those, like I was, are unfamiliar with it: This is a world sometime in the future and set in a city that I believe was once Chicago (as the now-abandoned Sears Tower is based there). Every person in this city belongs to one of five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (learning), Amity (kindness), Candor (honesty) or Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice Prior (or Tris as she becomes known) is a member of Abnegation and the book starts with the day that she and every other 16 year old from all factions undergo a test to see which faction they will belong to from then on: if they chose a faction other than the one that they were born into it means betraying their families and potentially never seeing them again). However, Tris’s test doesn’t turn out quite as she had expected as her results mean that she could choose one of 3 factions. She is told in confidence that this is because she is a Divergent but she must not tell anyone, even her family, as this is an extremely dangerous thing to be. On the day of the choosing ceremony, Tris abandons her family to join the Dauntless faction and that is where the adventure starts.

I thought the idea of this was brilliant and I was excited to find out about the factions and how Tris’s choice to join Dauntless would affect her. However, the more I read the more disillusioned I became: I never felt that I got a proper sense of the city or why it was like that or why the factions had come about and I would have liked to have learnt more. Also, as the book moved along I became more and more frustrated at why each person would only fit into one of the factions; afterall I don’t know anyone who is honest but can’t be kind or intelligent with it or brave but can’t be honest etc. I would expect that the majority of people would fit into more than one category – I certainly would; in fact I think I could fit into all of them (except Dauntless ironically – particularly after reading what they had to go through).

As well as some other minor annoyances, I did have one huge dislike too and that was the violence that went on for chapters and chapters. Each faction had to train its new recruits to pass an initiations (and those who fail are kicked out and become known as factionless and have to live on the streets), and despite knowing that the Dauntless faction was all about bravery, I found most of their training completely over the top and unsavoury to read. Fighting each other until someone passes out, throwing knives at each other, almost killing someone to test their mettle: I accept that some of this may have been necessary to show us what they recruits had to go through but for it to go on for so long and to be so brutal left a really bad taste in my mouth.

I would really have liked to know more about the other factions and how the city came to be like this but we got little information about anything outside the Dauntless compound until the end. Is this just in one city? Are there other cities exactly the same with their own compounds and set of factions? None of that was even addressed, never mind answered. I know this is the first book in a trilogy so maybe some of this will be answered in the future books, but even a little teaser or snippets of info would have been good.

Despite my little rants, I sort of enjoyed this book. I understand that it is the debut novel written by a 23 year old and that has to be commended. I hope that the books become tighter and more polished as the series continues and I am curious enough to want to read them to see what happens.

Verdict: Some major disappointments and it certainly is no Hunger Games (not in my mind at least). Aside from my ramblings though, it is still a fast-paced adventure story and should appeal to the masses.

(Source: I bought this book myself)

 

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

In three words:

Vintage, magical, nostalgic

What I thought:

♪ ♫ Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…♪ ♫

What a wonderful book to read in the run up to Christmas. I have just been swept away on a tide of vintage clothes, soaps and old-school glamour.

Miracle on Regent Street is about Evie Taylor, the stockroom girl at Hardy’s – a 100 year old department store in London – and despite feeling that her talents should lie on the shop floor, she is completely invisible to anyone else who works there (OK, she’s not exactly invisble as oposed to blending into the background so much that the entire staff still call her Sarah which is the name of her predecessor of two years before). One day, right at the beginning of December, Evie overhears a conversation between the owner of Hardy’s and her manager, and it horrified to realise that if Hardy’s fortunes don’t turn around before Boxing Day they will all be out of jobs. What follows is Evie’s secret attempt to turn the shop around before Christmas, with a little help from some rather unexpected corners – Sam the delivery boy, Lily from the tea-shop who still dresses as though she’s going to a tea dance from the good old days, Felix the security guard and a couple of eastern european cleaners. I loved the whole cast of characters in this book, and despite wanting to shout at Evie for not standing up for herself (I’m not one for keeping my mouth shut if something bugs me at work ;)), I still found her engaging and routed for her and her friends throughout.

One of the things I loved about this book was the wonderful nostalgic trip through a long-ago age where shop assistants spent time with customers, women were made to feel like women and a trip to the department store was a special treat. The transformation of the store through Evie and her secret elves made me long to be part of that world and I could see this wonderful place so clearly in my mind that I wanted to wander round the stalls and browse through the gold compacts, crystal perfume bottles and vintage peep-toe shoes (and this from someone who is not remotely a girly girl!); I wanted to glide down the huge wooden staircase and pick up the handbags, trilbys and corsets and then pop into the tearoom for tea and cake, red lipstick and stockings firmly in place.

I do love a chicklit book now and then, but I have to say that this is one of the most sophisticated that I have read; it didn’t have the cheesiness or sickliness of some and instead it had old fashioned glamour, romance, wit and warmth and it was a delight to read.

Verdict: If you are looking for a christmassy feel-good read then please, please look no further than this book. It is a real treat.

 

(Source: I received this book for review from Simon & Schuster)

 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

In three words:

Magical, spellbinding, beautiful

 

 

What I thought:

This book is truly magical. It hooked me from page one and did not let me go until I closed the final pages, and it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to this wonderful place and its small cast of characters.

Jack and Mabel arrive in Alaska in 1920 to make a new home for themselves and to get away from the terrible heartache of losing their only child at birth ten years before. Their sense of loss and grief is palpable and their sadness at realising that they are also losing each other is felt clearly through those opening pages. Just as things seem to be coming to a head, Jack and Mabel – in a rare moment of companionship – build a snowgirl together when the first snows of that winter arrive at their homestead. They dress it in mittens and a scarf and use the juice of berries to give some colour to its lips. The next morning, not only is their snowgirl gone, but there are little footprints leading away from the mound of snow and the couple start to be convinced that they have seen a little girl in a blue coat dashing between the trees in the snow, followed by a red fox.

What follows is a truly captivating and spell-binding tale of a little girl, who we come to find out is called Faina, and her place in the rebuilding of the lives of Jack and Mabel. As the elderly couple open their hearts once again, Mabel remembers a book that her father used to read to her when she was a child: a snow child that appears at the house of a childless couple and, despite many re-tellings and different endings over the years, always ends with the little girl melting back into the snow, and Mabel comes to dread the day that Faina will leave them too.  Faina herself is not quite tamable and always slightly out of reach of the couple and it is through her that the reader is treated to such a feast of beauty and nature and landscape. Just wondferful.

Istill can’t quite believe that this is a debut novel and beacuse of this, I cannot wait to see what else she comes up with in the future. The Snow Child isn’t released until 12th February 2012 but I just had to review it right now and yell that you MUST, MUST, MUST get yourself a copy of this book when it is out – run to the shops!  

Verdict: Wow, just wow. My favourite book of 2011 and I am head over heels in love with it.

 

(Source: I received a review copy of this book from Amazon Vine)

 

 

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

In three words:

Quirky, clever, riddle

 

 

What I thought:

What a strange yet strangely appealing book from this Japanese author, Keigo Higashino. I have read several novels by Japanese authors over the years and they have all had similar styles in that they have been sparsely written with barely a word wasted, yet they have all packed an almighty punch (without even trying it somehow seems). The Devotion of Suspect X is a clever crime book. There is a murder but no blood and gutts, a crime but no evidence. The killing takes place in the first few pages of the book and we all know straight away who did it: what happens immediately afterwards is what keeps the reader on their toes.

The story is centred around Yasuko, a single mum who works in a lunch-box shop and whos unsavoury ex-husband tries to worm his way back into her life. Within pages, said ex-husband is dead and entering from stage left is strange nextdoor neighbour Ishigami, who is a genius mathemetician with rather a large crush on Ysasuko. On the case of the body dumped in an oil drum by the river is Tokyo  Detective Kusangi who vents his frustrations about the case to friend Yukawa who happens to be a genius physician and whom knew Ishigami at University. What follows is clash of the geniuses: not in an action-packed, race-against-time way, but more like a battle of brains over a quiet game of chess. While this was a great way to help the reader unravel what happened, I have to admit that about ¾ of the way through the book I started to become a little bored with the perpetual cat-and-mouse game between Yukawa and Ishigami: I remember sighing and uttering “get on with it” at one point. However, not long after I was rewarded with an almighty wollop at the end that I didn’t see coming. And then, just as I’d relaxed again, I was left staring at an ending that made my mouth go into this shape….. O

Verdict: Quirky, surprising and rewarding.

(Source: I bought this book myself)

 

Love You More by Lisa Gardner

In three words:

Gripping, unreliable, thrilling

 

 

What I thought:

I have been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s books for a while now, but for some reason she doesn’t seem to be as well known in the UK as other crime writers. I hope that changes soon as her books really are great!  I am especially loving this series starring Detective D.D. Warren who is one of Boston’s top homicide Detectives.

Love You More is a gripping thriller that opens with State Tropper Tessa Leoni being arrested for the murder of her husband and the disappearance of her 6 year old daughter. Tessa’s narrative takes the reader back and forth through her relationship with Brian and their last moments together and it becomes clear early on that she may not be a reliable narrator, as her story often changes, but why does she do this? The reason does become apparant nearer the end – and it’s a good one! Interspersing Tessa’s story is Detective D. D. Warren and her race to find missing six-year-old Sophie. D.D. is a great character – she’s fiesty, funny (without trying) and kick-ass; I love her. The switching between the two perspectives keeps the plot fast-paced and interesting too, espcially as you are wondering who to believe most of the time.

Verdict: As with all the previous books of Gardner that I have read, this one is equally as addictive and has twists and turns a-plenty.

  Have you read any of the D.D. Warren series yet? Or any of her other books?

(Source: this book was sent to me from Headline Rerview who have just taken over as Lisa Gardner’s publishers and this edition is available on 2nd Feb 2012)

 

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

In three words:

Sensitive, engaging, beautiful

 

 

What I thought:

On a perfect summers day, in the south of England, a school hosts its end of year sports day. While the school is awash with children, parents and siblings helping out, somone sets light to the art room and what results is an inferno that lands mother and daughter (Grace and 17 year old Jennifer) in hospital and seriously ill.

Afterwards is narrated by Grace who , in an out of body experience (along with daughter Jenny), is trying to make sense of just what happened and why. Grace does this by talking to her husband, Mike, whom cannot see or hear her but whom she reminisses about the past and confides her fears about the future, which I found this difficult to grasp at first as I kept having to remind myself who she was talking to.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this book is a literary thriller, but the prose and themes of love, faith and hope feel a step away from most crime fiction; however the mystery of what happened at the school is certainly the central theme. The language used is, in my opinion, at times beautiful and at times irritating (for bordering on gushy and being a little disney).

Despite the fact that the book sometimes felt a bit drawn out, I was sufficiently engaged enough to want to know who the arsonist was and why they had set fire to the school. There were twists, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say red herrings as certain characters were slightly too obvious to be real contenders.

Verdict: A lovely and engaging read and refreshing in style. Recommended.

(Source: This book is from my own shelves)

 

The Retribution by Val McDermid

In three words:

Revenge, murder, pyschopath

 

What I thought:

I first discovered Val McDermid’s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series about 7 or 8 years ago and I have been a dedicated fan ever since. The Retribution is not only the latest in the series of seven books but it also reintroduces one of the serial killers from a much earlier book The Wire in the Blood – the evil and twisted Jacko Vance. To be honest, I could barely remember a thing about that book so it wouldn’t make any difference to reading this book out of sequence if you haven’t read McDermid’s earlier ones yet.

Jacko Vance is clever – brillianlty clever and charming to boot. He has spent the last 16 year behind bars for the murder of a teenage girl (although he murdered many, many more but the prosecution couldn’t prove it). In The Retribution, Vance escapes from jail (no spoiler – it’s in the blurb) and is hell bent on payback to those who landed him in prison in the first place, including both Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. At the same time, another serial killer is on the lose in Bradfield killing prostitutes and Detective Carol Jordan’s team set out to track him down.

The fact that both these stories are running in tandem with each other means that not enough time was devoted to either. The prostitute killer felt almost like an afterthought and his ultimate capture was bordering on eye-rolling. The sotry of Jacko Vance’s escape and revenge would have been more than enough to keep us on the edge of our seats and, at times, I was. Waiting to see who would feed Carol Jordan’s cat (it will make sense when you have read it, I promise) had my pulse racing overtime and trying to figure out who was next on his hit-list was great stuff. Jacko Vance is such a brilliantly evil character that despite his psychopathic nature, I wanted to spend more and more time in his company in the book; I had to know what he was thinking and planning on doing next and loved seeing how he doesn’t see anything wrong with himself, just everyone else. However – and it’s with a heavy heart that I write this, being such a fan – I felt that this book wasn’t on a par with others in the series. In fact,  Beneeth the Bleeding (two books earlier) was also somewhat lacking and I wonder if Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are finally running out of steam….. or maybe McDermid is?

Despite my overall enjoyment of the book, I was left with a feeling that the ending was rushed and that the prostitute killer had almost been forgotten and that Hill and Jordan were not acting completely in character. As for the end….it felt so implausable that I almost saw the character involved as a charicature of themselves, complete with moustache-twirling “mwahahahahaaa”. The book also ends very abruptly, almost like the end of a chapter than the end of a book and it left me with a feeling of “now what?” rather than satisfaction.

Verdict: A really good read, just not a great one. I felt a little short-changed which is disappointing as I always look forward to the latest book in the series so much. Will I read the next? Absolutely!

 

(Source: I recieved my copy of this book for review from both Little, Brown and also Netgalley – thank you)

 

Day 40 – Win one of my favourite books!

♫ ♪Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeeee ♪ ♫…..

Well, this is it! I am now officially old! The BIG FOUR-OH has come knocking at my door and I have shuffled over to let it in. Only kidding! (not about being 40, but about the shuffling bit). Age is a state of mind and I still feel 17 (and still act it sometimes too ;))

My orginal challenge for today was to pick a favourite book about a celebration but I have changed my mind and I’m feeling very generous today so instead I am going to give away one of the books that I have mentioned in this series of post.

 

The Rules

All you have to do is leave a comment below saying which book you would like to receive and why and I will enter you into the draw. I will pick the winner using random.org on Wednesday 12th October at 6pm GMT so you have 3 days to enter. Here is a link to all my 40 posts so happy deciding.

 

Good luck!

 

Day 39 – A book I expected to hate but loved

Love me, love me not, love me…

When I was younger I read and loved Agatha Christie books but that was probably as near as I got to crime fiction until James Patterson which I used to read in a single sitting on holiday. Then back in about 2004, our chosen book club book was layed out on the table and I remember picking it up tentitively and wrinkling my nose at the title. That book was The Torment of Others by Val McDermid.

I remember being almost so sure that I wouldn’t enjoy it (it sounded gory and hardcore and the cover wasn’t as nice as the new one shown below) that I nearly didn’t even buy it that night. Once home, however, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up flying through the chapters, completely enthralled by the twisted tale before me. It was brilliant!

The Torment of Others wasn’t the first book in McDermid’s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (it’s the fourth I think) but it didn’t matter. Once I had read that book, I went right back to the beginning and read them all in order, pretty much back to back (just like I did when I discovered Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series). McDermid is one very clever author – I love the twists and turns, not just of the stories themselves but of the killers minds; I loved being alongside Tony Hill as he tries to fathom out their motives and what they’ll do next.

 

  Have you ever expected to dislike a book and had a pleasant surprise?

 

Day 38 – An author crush

Reader, I heart them…

Is it cheating to bundle these into one (especially as only a week or so ago I did a post about not being able to read Wuthering Heights)? If I had to pick only one sister then it would be Charlotte but how can I leave out poor neglected Anne and yes, even Emily? Yep, I have a crush on them all – thoses feisty, weather-worn Yorkshire lasses who like to roam around on moors and pen stories by candlelight.

I am lucky enough to only live about a 45 minute drive from Haworth where the Bronte sisters grew up with the Vicar father, brother Branwell and their Aunt once their mother and other sisters had all passed away in their childhoods. The Parsonage is still there today and is now a museum and I have wandered though their home on several occasions, looking at the chair Charlotte sat on to write or the sofa that Emily died on (determined to the last hour that she was OK and wanted to get up).

 

Wonder why their books had that gothic feel?

 

Bleak, bleak, bleak! Love it!

 

Haworth Village - cute little town with lovely book shops 🙂

 
Charlotte is my main crush, having penned my favourite book of all-time – Jane Eyre – and also the wonderful Villette (which I know some people find a challenging read); both books had me in awe and I didn’t want either of them to end. I still have Shirley and The Proffesor to read (and I also have a lovely copy of The Tales of Angria which she wrote as a child). I have also read Charlotte Bronte’s Letters in which she writtes to her friend, nurse, sisters and even William Thackaray and Elizabeth Gaskell!
 
I have read and loved both of Anne’s books too, and although I did enjoy Agnes Grey it didn’t have the magnitude of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall which was way before its time and I would love to know what sort of a reception it got back then (a woman not towing the line? Pffft!) .
 
I have made my feelings of Wuthering Heights clear before but despite having had 3 attempts at it, I still don’t feel ready to stop trying. Is it because she’s a Bronte? Probably.
 
So, there you have my author crush(es).
 

  Who is yours?

 

Day 37 – A book that I still think about years after having read it

Memoirs of a smitten reader…

There are many books that don’t want to seem to let me go after I have finished those final pages; books that I can’t stop thinking about or that haunt my thoughts for days, even weeks afterwards. I love those books – the ones that get under your skin. However, how many of those book do I still remember years later? Yes, there are books that I look back fondly, even passionately upon, but it is a really special book that stays in my mind so vividly years and years later that every now and then I will be taken completely unawares when one of the characters sneeks into my head and waves hello.

One such book that has that effect on my is Memoirs of a Geisha which I read in the summer of 2003. I can clearly remember entering the Japanese tea houses and walking under the cherry blossom trees so much so that whenever I looked up from my book I was surprised to find myself still sat on a sofa in a house in Yorkshire. I was so emmersed in sayuri’s life for the few days that it took me to read it that I actually felt as though I’ve lost a friend once I had finished: I felt lost without her and her world. Even now, every now and then,  I find myself thinking about not only Sayuri but also Mameha, the Chairman, Nobu and even Hatsumomo and wondering what became of them.

Memoirs of a Gesiha is a breathtakingly beautiful book and one that will stay with me for a long, long time. And when I stop remembering…..I will read it again.

 

  Which books have you been able to let go of even years later?

 

Day 36 – A favourite book recommended by another book blogger

What does “need” have to do with it?…

Where to even begin! Since I began blogging my shelves have more than quadrupled in size, my floorboards are creaking under the weight and my husband nearly has a stroke every time he comes near my office and sees piles of books all over the floor! I keep trying to tell him it’s not my fault – it’s all the other book bloggers who keep reading things that make me need to read them too to which he tried to argue that I don’t “need” them. Oh but I do!!!!!

Anyhoo, after much deliberation I have chosen The Likeness by Tana French which ended up in my top 10 of last year. I saw a review of this book written by Sakura of Chasing Bawa book blog and just knew I would love it and I did. If you haven’t been over to Sakuras blog yet, make sure you do – she has a fantastic blog (one of my favourites). If you haven’t been acquainted with this book yet then take a look at my review here and then buy or borrow it! 🙂

 

  Have you ever been recommended a book by another blogger and loved it?

 

Day 35 – The longest book I have ever read

Count how many pages…

I’m not really one for long books. I wish I was – there are so many I want to read! It’s the size that puts me off even picking most of them up: what if it takes too long to read when there are so many other books out there waiting to be read? I am easily distracted by things that drop through my letter box and books that have been on my shelf for a long time can be overlooked.

I would love to read more though including Charles Dickens (David Copperfield, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend to name just a few), Gone With the Wind, The Passage, The Crimson Petal and the White, Quincunx, Shantaram, Shogun and A Suitable Boy are all on my shelves, staring sadly at me every time I pass them.

Despite saying that, I have read some long books and I almost always love them when I do (although part of me wonders if I love them so much becasue I am so rapturous of  having got through them!). The longest book I have read so far is The Count of Monte Cristo which I loved. Swashbuckling, dramatic and thrilling!

 

  Which is the longest book you have read and was it worth it?

 

Day 34 – A book I wish I had written

Coulda, shoulda, woulda…

To be honest, I never actually get to the end of a book and I wish I had written it; if I did then I should have been an author. What I do do at the end of a great book is close it in awe and admiration and respect for an author that can conjour up a world so real that I have actually been there, lived through what the characters have lived and been gutted to leave them behind at the end. If I were to name books that had that effect on me I would include favourites such as The Secret History, The Magus and The Hunger Games as those are books I truly envy the author their imaginations. However, I am going to chose abook that I absolutely loved, lived and laughed through and that book is….

Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson. Atkinson is probably better known for her Case Histories series books with Jackson Brodie (Started Early, Took My Dog was the latest) but BTSATM is one of her stand-alone books and I remember reading it on holiday in Morocco: I fell in love almost from the first line of the book and it never let me go from then on. Not only was it laugh-out-loud funny in many places (and I love funny books!) but it was also quirky, magnetic, nostalgic and emotional. If I had written a book I would love it to be something like this one.

 

  Do you ever finish a book and wish you’d written it yourself?

 

Day 33 – A book that I would love to read but never do

Whether I shall turn out to ever read this book…

There are many, many, many books that I want to read and to read soon. I constantly have a mental list of what I think I want to read in the next few weeks but then my magpie instinct take over when shiny new things arrive.

One author that I don’t feel that I have read nearly enough of is Charles Dickens. My first encounter with Dickens was as a 15 year year old when I had to read Great Expectations for school and I hated it! Twenty-two years later I decided to give it another go and loved it, and I quickly followed it with A Christmas Carol which is now one of my all-time favourites. So I am slightly perplected as to why I haven’t read any other since and the only reason I can think of is that they are bloody thick books!

The one I really want to read is David Copperfield and I have picked it off the shelf on several occasions and put it back because I can envisage weeks and weeks stretching in front of me with this meaty tome and with shiny new things piling up around me!

 

  Which book do you keep putting off even though you really want to read it?

 

Day 32 – A book that has been on my shelf unread for more than 5 years

Frankly my dear, this has been on my shelf far too long….

It has been in my home for years. I want to read it. I really want to read it. So why haven’t I?

Has anyone out there read this and can offer a compelling argument as to why this should be one of my next reads? What is stopping me picking it up? (Or could it have a little something to do with the fact that there are several hundred other books in the same predicament on my shelves too? – Damn those new shiny things that keep dropping through my letterbox!)

Day 31 – A book that everyone else seems to love except me

Let me in at your window…

Actually,  the fact that I am the only one who doesn’t love this book isn’t strictly true as I know others who have struggled with it too, but the reason I have picked it is because I sort of feel I ought to love it: it’s written by a Bronte (√), it’s set in Yorkshire (√), it’s set on windswept moors (√), it’s gothic (√), it’s a love story (√). So why then don’t I love the damn thing? This book has all the ingredients for the perfect book for me! It’s not for lack of trying either: I have attempted to read Wuthering Height at least three times and each time I can’t even get past 100 pages.

 

The big question is:

  Do I keep trying? Is it worth it? Or should I just accept that Wuthering Heights and I don’t   get along and move on?

 

Homeless Rats by Ahmed Fagih = wonderful book

In three words:

Desert, hunger, battle

 

I read this book some months ago now: I was sent it for review in advance of the publication date and only intended to flick through the first few pages and before I knew it I was ripping through the book, not wanting to put it down. I actually started it on a boiling hot day (yes, unusual for the UK which is precisely why I had set up camp in the back garden) and as I read the first sentence I almost felt I was there in the desert.

Anyone who knows my blog will know that I am a sucker for books with animals in them or narrated by animals (see yesterdays post). The fact that I often have problems reading books narrated by children never seems to transcend to books narrated by a rat or a pig or a dog. Don’t be put off though, only the odd chapter is narrated by (in this case) a jerboa rat, an ant or a spiny-taled lizzard and it’s done in such a way feels necessary for the book and also gives us another angle in which to view the humans whom tell us the rest of the tale.

Homeless Rats is about a group of Bedouins in southern Libya who set off in a large convoy to a place in the desert further north where they are assured of bountious barley that they can eat and sell in the markets. Their home village of Mizda has suffered such drought that they have no option but to move on. Once they arrive in J    they are grief-stricken by the fact that all the barley ears have been taken already. Hungry and knowing they don’t have enough food to go on another journey they weigh up their options. Just as all seems lost, a young boy finds a stash of barley underground in a Jerboa’s home and then all becomes clear – the dessert rats have harvested all the barley ears for themselves to see them through the winter. Thus begins a battle between man and animal.

This book is really clever in making me see both sides equally and feeling empathy for both animal and human. At first I felt sympathy for the animals who had had their homes destroyed by humans and their food stolen. When all the dessert animal kingdom come together to discuss their lost homes and families and what to do next, I was upset with them as they watched everything they knew fall away from them. Once we switch back to the humans, who are literally desperate at one point as they have no food to stay and no food to go on their way, I realised that it was all about survival. It was easy for me to sit in judgement about these people coming and destroying the animal kingdom but they were starving and they were doing what was necessary to survive.

Verdict – Homeless Rats had shades of Watership Down in the desert. I adored this book and highly recommend.

Look how cute I am!

 

(Source: I received my copy of this book for review from Quartet Books)

 

Day 30 – A favourite sensational novel

Pass the smelling salts…

This is one of my favourite genres: victorian sensational books. All that drama, mystery, plotting and intrigue. It’s like reading a gossipy soap-opera with guilded carriages and dastardly villains. The first book I ever read that was classed as “sensational” was Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. From the first page I was hooked:  A 19th century who-dunnit complete with beautiful but cunning villainess, rambling old houses and an upper-class layabout-turned-detective. Fabulous!

Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the first “sensation” novels ever written, and while it doesn’t have the sophisticated and multi-layered plots of todays thrillers, that keep us guessing until the very end and on the edge of our seets, it is nonetheless a great page turner and so much fun. This book was originally serialised in a paper back in 1862, and I can imagine eagerly awaiting the next installment as they would have done back then.


 

 

  Have you read any sensational novels? Any other recommendations?

 

Day 28 – A book I loved that nobody else did

Housekeeping…

Strictly speaking, this can’t be a book that nobody else loved as it won the Orange prize in 2003 but the reason I have picked it is that when we read it at my old book club when it first won, out of the twenty or so members I was the only one who liked this book.

Property is set in the USA deep south in the mid 1800’s and Manon is the wife of an adulterous slave owner which leads to very sad consequences. Despite the subject matter, I found this book a gripping read and I loved the voice of Manon (who had moments of sarcasm which really appealed to my sense of humour). I can’t really remember much more about this book as it is 8 years since I read it but I do remember being really surprised by everyone in my groups reaction.

 

  Have you ever loved a book and been surprised by other peoples negative reaction?

 

Day 27 – A book I love that deserves to be better known

 Bewitching…

Although I can think of lots of books that I wish more people would read, this challenge was quite an easy one for me as I can’t understand why more people don’t read this book. When I read it in January 2010 it instantly became a favourite and I passed it on to my mum who read it, fell in love with it and has read it again since: in fact it is now her all-time favourite book (and she is as much as a reader and book-lover as I am).

The book I am referring to is called Witch Light, although when I read it in hardback it was called Corrag. Here is my review from back then:

“Rarely does a book bewitch (pardon the pun) and mesmorise me quite so much as this one. It is truly one of the most beautiful and lyrical books I have ever read.

The story is narrated by Corrag, a 16 year old girl who is awaiting being burned at the stake for being a witch in 17th century Scotland. Corrag is visited in jail by Charles Leslie, an Irish Jacobite who wants to prove that the recent massacre in Glencoe was the work of the soldiers under William of Orange. Corrag is English and has run away “north and west” at the command of her mother who is about to be hung for also being a witch. Corrag takes the old and beaten horse of a cruel neighbour, a grey mare who becomes her best and only friend, and spends the next year living off the land and making her way north-west where she arrives in Glencoe. At first the clan is wary of her, but over time they welcome her into the fold although she still lives in her self-made little hut on the moor.

What is magical about this book is Corrage’s voice. She lives, breathes and dreams nature and the land around her. Every tiny thing is spoken of with such love and passion and she notices everything – a dew drop on a leaf, the changing colours of the rocks through the day, the silver sand as the grey mare gallops over beaches in the moonlight. The way she narrates is lyrical and equistite and the world she inhabits makes you feel like you can breathe again. Despite her life so far and her hardships, she has such a capacity for love and kindness for eveyone she meets.

Through her visits from Charles Leslie, Corrag tells her life story from her birth through to the night her friends were slain in a Scottish valley during a blizzard. Each person is wary of the other at the beginning – Leslie returns daily as he is waiting for details on who was behind the massacre (believing it to be the new King) and Corrag is determined that her life will not be forgotten. After several weeks they find a strange comfort in each other and a friendship is born. Corrag has found companionship in her final days and Leslie learns to see whe world through fresh eyes.

I honestly just loved this book. It has now become a firm favourite and I am sorry it has ended. I have never read any of Susan Fletchers other two books but I will now be seeking them out.

Highly, highly recommended!”

I really, really hope that I have persuaded you to read this book – I can’t rave about it enough.

 

  What book do you think we should all be reading?

 

Day 26 – A favourite science-fiction book

One flew over…

I don’t read much science-fiction at all; it seems to be one of the few genres that I seem to avoid despite having really enjoyed the ones I have read. For that reason, for this challenge I didn’t have much to pick from so it made my job a bit easier. That said, the one I have picked I absolutely LOVED!

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (author of The Day of The Triffids) starts as a normal day in a little English village until a bubble forms around the village that makes every single resident fall asleep. When they awake they are unaware of anything that is happened….that is until they discover that every girl or woman of child-bearing age is pregnant! The children of Midwich are the focus of the story as not only do they all look alike and only appear to want to be together and woe betide anyone who crosses them.

 

  Have you read anything by Wyndham? Which other authors might I enjoy?

 

Day 25 – A favourite chicklit book

It’s party time!

I do love to read chicklit from time to time – it’s my my way of comforting and soothing the soul or refreshing the palate between heavier reads. Shopping, handbags, office romances, holidays in the sun, I’m not fussy so long as it cheers me up and leaves me with a smile on my face.

I have spoken before about my favourite authors in this genre and Sophie Kinsella and Katie Fforde are my top two but I also really enjoy Jane Fallon, Paige Toon, Jane Green and Adele Parks to name a few more. The book I have chosen to go with, though, is by Christina Jones who is an author I haven’t mentioned on my blog before. Not only did I absolutely adore this book, but it’s also called Happy Birthday (and afterall this is my birthday challenge :)).

Happy Birthday host a wonderfully quirky cast an quaint English villages with funny names. The story centres on Phoebe, a list-making, highly-oragnised, horoscope reading hairdresser who turned up for her immaculately planned wedding to discover that the groom hasn’t. As Phoebe tries to come to terms with what’s happened and carry on alone, she has to put up with the return of Rocky, her noisy, bad-tempered neighbour as well. Then she meets Essie, a glamorous pensioner who dabbles in something called Happy Birthday magic and that’s when things take a turn…

Happy Birthday  is a wonderful, magical read. I adored all the characters and there is such humour and comedy moments that I laughed out loud in places. Loved, loved, loved it.

  Do you like chicklit books? Which books or authors would you recommend?

 

Day 24 – A favourite “unputdownable” book

It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it…

I love finding a book that I just cannot put down; I just have to keep reading to find out what happens, chanting “just one more chapter, just one more chapter”. What’s better than being sucked into another world so brilliantly that when you look up you’re surprised to find that you’re still in your own living room. LOVE ‘EM!

There are so many books that would fit this challenge so I have decided to go for one that I haven’t mentioned on my blog yet. Even that was difficult but I have finally gone for The Job by Douglas Kennedy. I was first introduced to Kennedy by a friend years ago with an insistance that I read The Big Picture (just as unputdownable, by the way) and after that I went on a little Kennedy bings and devoured about 5 books in one go by him. The Job really struck a chord with me though as it is set in the corporate world (which I work in – yes, anoyingly enough I do have a day job which is rather inconvenient to my reading-life….).

The Job  is the story of a Salesperson who left the sticks to relocate to Manhattan, determined to be a success at any cost which leads him to make a decision that will alter the cause of his life and find him unable to get out.  This book races along so fast, with so many twists that it truly was impossible to put down! Brilliant, just brilliant!

Ignore the naff cover – this book isn’t even about a woman and there’s certainly no romance in it – and pick up a copy of this book. Then read his other stuff (I have loved all his books that I’ve read and I still have about another 5 to read!) and let me know what you think.

 

  Which books have you found unputdownable?

 

I’m on Facebook!

Earlier this year, I finally dragged myself into the 21st century (after much nagging from family and friends about my absense) and joined Facebook.

Now I’ve gone one step further and have set up a page for The Book Whisperer (I know – get me!)

So, please stop by and “like” my page and chat etc – would love to see you all there 🙂

 

Link to my page

 

Day 20 – A book with a character most like me

Know Thyself…

This is probably the hardest challenge yet and I have racked my brains about this for weeks but still can’t decide on a character that fits me exactly. There are parts of characters that I see in myself, but only parts. Contenders for this were:

Alicia Johns from Enid Blytons’ Malory Towers series. Alicia is a fun-loving chatterbox who likes to play tricks on the form mistresses. I never actually played tricks in class but I was most definitely a chatterbox (some may say I still am ;)) and had a habit of talking to and distracting those who were still working when I had finished mine. I was also cheeky but managed to get away with it mostly:I was told by one form teacher that I “looked like an angel on the outside but was a little devil on the inside”.

My husband suggested Stig of the Dump! How rude! To be fair, he does have a point. I detest housework and only do it because I have to and would quite happily live in a mess if it meant I could just lie around and read books. How inconvenient that hoovering and cleaning the kitchen get in the way of my leisure time. Le sigh.

Another suggestions was given by an old school friend of mine who I am back in touch with on Facebook: Belle from Beauty and The Beast. She said “Intelligent, avid reader, a good friend with a warm personality and a true beauty.” How lovely is that?

Anyway, in the end I have decided to abstain from this post as I can’t make my mind up which one to go with (does that make me schitzophrenic?) and instead I am going to ask all you to come up with ideas.

Based on what you know about me from my blog, which character do you think I am most like?

 

   Which character do you think you are most like and why?

 

Day 19 – A book that scared me

Boo!

As a teenager I loved scary books and films etc. Then I turned into a wimp.

Now I am on a quest to find the ultimate scary read again (especially now the nights are drawing in and it’s getting colder – the perfect time to snuggle up on the sofa with a book that creeps and chills). Last year I did a “Dare You Read It?” series in an attempt to find that special spine-tingling book and, while I did read some great books, none of them scared me to death. And that is because…..

I already know which book will do that as I attempted to read it about 2/3 years ago and it scare the bejeesus out of me so much that I had to put it down less than half way through. That book is The Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. If you’re not aware of Joe Hill, he is the son of Stephen King (let’s face it, if you grow up with King for your Dad then you’re gonna know how to tell a spooky yarn!). The Heart Shaped Box starts with a man – Jude – who likes to collect macabre things and when he spots an add on ebay from a woman selling the ghost of her step-father, he presses “buy now”. By the time Jude has taken receipt of the suit that the old man used to wear (that comes complete with said ghost), things start to get really chilling. His dogs start barking and going mental and he sees the old man sitting on a chair outside his bedroom and tries to sneak past. I think that’s pretty much where I left it…

Now, since then I have read Hill’s other book Horns which isn’t scary in the same way at all. I have also met the man himself at a book signing of Horns in Waterstones in Leeds and he was very nice, but The Heart Shaped Box still remains firmly shut and at the back of my shelf!

As it’s Autumn and as I am also doing the RIP Challenge again this year, I am contemplating giving it another go. However, I am too chicken to try it on my own (just incase that man is still sat on the chair where I last left him!) so are there any volunteers to read along with me?

                            

 

What is the scariest book you have ever read and why?